Monday, February 16, 2009

New blog

Since I created this blog in 2006, it's kind of morphed into several different things. I've been trying to find a better way of keeping all the same information in one place -- and making it easy for me to update, and easy for everyone else to navigate.

I use Wordpress for my business site, and have decided to move my personal blog over there as well. I LOVE Wordpress. I've been planning on making the switch for a while, but just couldn't quite find the energy & patience time to do so.

The new site will always be a work in progress, but please change your bookmarks to:

I will leave this blog up, to serve as an archive of our family's journey. Thanks for keeping with us!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

MRI Results

I know I said I was taking a break -- and I am -- but I also thought some of you may be wondering about Chad's MRI from last week....

Chad brought home a copy of the MRI results right after his appointment last week. We were eager to see them, and were not too floored by what we saw. No growth, no shrinkage. No change. Still. He's still stable!

We met Tuesday with his oncologist. The radiologist hasn't sent the images over yet, so we didn't get to talk about the results.
That same evening, I received his labs & MRI results via fax. There were a few terms I had to look up in medical journals, a few new tidbits of information.

There is no new growth, as we suspected. But there are a few questionable areas. His oncologist isn't sure what it means since Chad hasn't done anything by the books. It may be nothing, but it's possible that he will be having another biopsy in the coming weeks.

On Feb 24, we will be traveling to Baptist Hospital in Wake Forest to talk with a specialist we've previously talked to. He has been the most honest with us so far, and we are eager to hear his take on the new MRI results.

Once we get that info and decide what to do next, I'll be sure to let you know.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ready for a change

I've been debating this for a while.
I'm in the middle of a new blog design, with a new domain.
So, for right now, please excuse my absence.
I'll be back soonish with the new web address and a bunch of pretty, yummy things.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Friday Feast: Sweets for your sweetie!

Okay, I know I missed the post yesterday. I had good intentions. It just never happened.
But I'm here today - a whole day late. Meh. Well....I think I'm late for everything since my little people were born. So I'm just keeping with the trend.

We're not real big on Valentine's Day around here - but I do try to make a little something special for everyone. And by special, I mean chocolate. Of course.

I like fudge. It's delicious. It's nutritious (well, not technically, but it rhymed). And it's just good.
Until recently, I had a heckuva time making fudge. I tried. Repeatedly. But I never got it right. Something about the consistency and the setting. It just wasn't right.

I was inspired by a recipe I saw in an old magazine, and thought I would give it one more try. And it is the best recipe I've ever found - and helped me realize my mistake. I wasn't letting the mixture boil long enough. I didn't bother with a pesky candy thermometer. My mom never used one, and her fudge was always perfect. So I fought the urge to buy one -- until a few weeks ago. I successfully mastered this recipe without a candy therm, so it can be done!

Basic Smudge
Carys calls it 'smudge'.
I don't know why, but the name stuck.

Below is the pecan version - recipe at the end.
3 c sugar
3/4 c butter (1.5 sticks)
2/3 c evaporated milk
2 c choc chips (12 oz)
1 jar marshmallow fluff (7 oz)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Line a pan with foil. I use different pans - sometimes a jelly roll pan, sometimes a 8x8 brownie pan. It doesn't matter. Just make sure you butter the foil of whatever pan you use - it will make for easier removal later.
In a heavy saucepan, bring sugar, butter & milk to a boil over medium heat. Cook & stir until candy thermometer is 234 degrees (soft ball stage). If you don't have a candy thermometer, bring the mixture to a rolling boil and keep it there for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Stir in chocolate, marshmallow fluff & vanilla until smooth. Pour into buttered pan. You can let it stand on the counter, but I prefer to pop it in the fridge. Your option though. When it's fully set and firm, remove foil from the pan and cut into squares.
Makes about 4 pounds.

There you have it. My basic smudge recipe.
I've been playing around with it -- which I highly encourage you to do, also.
Try these:

Snickers Smudge
Chop six regular-sized Snickers bars in a food processor. (You can do it by hand, but it's so much easier to pop it in the FP.) When you pour the smudge mixture into the pan, only pour half. Then sprinkle all the chopped candy onto the smudge. Cover with the remaining smudge.

Pecan Smudge
(For my dad who loves both Smudge & Pecans)
After you mix the vanilla in, go ahead & mix in about 1.5 cups of chopped pecans. Then pour it all in the pan and let it firm up, as normal.

S'more Smudge
(Something special we thought up for my dad's birthday)
Pour half of the smudge mixture into a buttered pan, and then add 1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed to bite-sized pieces (which is a great activity for the kiddos - put the crackers in a couple o' ziplocs & let them crush to their heart's content). Sprinkle mini marshmallows on top. Then cover with the remaining smudge mix. Top with more mini marshmallows, if desired -- but be sure to press them into the fudge a bit with the palm of your hand.

Smudge Truffles
This is a bit tricky, but is a special, beautiful, delicate treat. I've been thinking of this for a while and tried a few the last time I made a batch of smudge. Wow, is all I can say.
Follow the recipe - butter & foil a pan. But - when it comes time to pour the smudge into the pan - DO NOT DO IT! Pour it into a large bowl instead. Let it cool slightly, until it's cool enough to handle with your fingers. I used a small cookie scoop that worked perfectly, FYI. Scoop/form into small balls - and then place them on the foil. Once they've fully set in the fridge or on the counter, roll them in a good quality cocoa powder.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Things I've learned since becoming a Mom

I can never go anywhere alone. Especially to the bathroom.

According to the little people in my life, I am rich if I have two pennies, a quarter and a some lint in my pocket.

Polly Pocket's shoes fit nicely into a little person's nose. As do tweezers (for shoe removal), small beads from a broken bracelet, several mini M&Ms, fingers & french fries.

Wiping your face is overrated. Shirt sleeves work best. Especially crisp, clean, white ones.

When potty-training a child, you are likely to find undergarments discarded in/around objects where they don't belong. Like under the glass dome of a cake plate, for instance.

When preparing dinner and things get quiet, there's a reason. Usually, that reason involves glitter, broken glass & a watery mess on their bedroom floor. Snow globes don't break themselves, people.

When the phone rings, my little people go seven kinds of crazy. And they get very loud. Well, louder than normal.

I don't have eyes in the back of my head, even though my children think I do. I tell them I see everything, and it usually means I get to the bottom of the glittery, broken glass & watery mess on their bedroom floor.

My little people think packing peanuts do not taste like real peanuts, in case you were wondering.

Eating your vegetables means "accidentally" dropping them, one-by-one, on the floor. Then they're dirty, and we can't eat dirty food.

Remember that embarrassing thing I did last night? Well, my little people remember it. And they're telling everyone at Wal-Mart today.

Just don't talk about body parts or body functions. My little people will talk about it openly in public, even when begged asked not to.

Chewing gum in your sleep is a learned skill. Ask Carys. She has the missing patch of hair to prove it as of this morning.

When trying to remove marker from a painted wall, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is a lifesaver. However, it also removes the seven layers of the previous homeowner's pastel Laura Ashley paint underneath the marker, if you scrub too hard.

Cats don't like toothpaste.
Dogs and Beta fish don't either.

No matter what, the other little person did it.
Just ask one of them. Then ask the other one.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Another MRI set for tomorrow

I can't believe it's been three months since Chad last took a dose of chemo.
He has a follow-up MRI tomorrow afternoon.
We won't know anything until his oncologist appointment next week, but I wanted you all to know what was going on.

We've gotten a lot of questions lately, since we've been pretty quiet on the Chad-front. He's doing great, feeling really good. Nothing to report, honestly.

I'll be sure to update once we meet with his medical team next week.

Thanks for the continued prayers & concern.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Carys & Cailyn Go Flying

As a child, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my grandfather. If that wasn't enough of a treat, my grandfather is a pilot. I logged a lot of flight hours in my childhood, and always hoped to garner my own pilot's license. Since I'm now approaching 30 with very little free time, I'm sure that I won't ever get that license. But it's something I've always wanted my children to experience; not just flight. Anyone can get on a plane. I wanted them to have the same memories I have of my Papa; their great-Papa.

So, this weekend, we did it. I thought I had a firm grasp on who would enjoy their first airplane ride more -- definitely Carys since she's my thrill seeker. But wouldn't you know, Cailyn turned out to be my little aero-nut. They were both extremely excited and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, although Carys took a little more time to warm up to the thought of being so high above the ground.

Chad is planning to go skydiving in the next month or two, and we used this little excursion as a precursor to that. We know he handles commercial flights well, but we weren't so sure about a smaller plane. They feel a lot different in the sky, and we needed to know if the extra movements and sensations would trigger extra anxiety for Chad. And, the girls have never flown. They always want to, but we rarely go anywhere via plane. We did a quick trip to South Carolina and had lunch, then flew back.

We traveled down to my grandfather's house on Saturday. It was a beautiful day - not a single cloud, so the visibility was unlimited up in the air. After a perfect take-off, Carys leaned over to me & shouted: "I really like this Mommy!"
After reminding her for the third time that she didn't have to yell into the headphone mic, she felt her first bit o' turbulence. It wasn't bad, just a tiny bump - but it was enough to silence her for most of our 20 minute flight to South Carolina. I kept asking her if she was okay, but she didn't seem like she was enjoying it too much. She has a firm grip on my hand, and each time we were bumped by the wind, her grasp got a little tighter.

Cailyn was glued to the window the entire trip. She was mesmerized by how tiny everything looked, and was thrilled to see the plane's shadow on the ground so far below us. She loved seeing the "itty-bitty cows" and the "teeny-tiny twees".

Carys got a little more relaxed after I told her we were almost at our destination. I think she actually started looking out the window at this point.
Both girls were most excited about lunch - a little place called Stanton's BBQ right outside of Bennettsville, SC. They thought it was absolutely fantastic that we were flying to lunch and not driving. I think the promise of lunch was the only thing that kept Carys from wanting to land shortly after take-off.

After lunch, we headed back. The Lanford crew was a lot more relaxed this time around, and the smallest crew members even took a nap on the way back.

Chad did really well on the flight - so we're getting ready for jumping out of a plane soon. Well, I say "we" but it's probably only going to be "he". Chad is trying to persuade me to jump also, but I'm not 100% convinced yet.